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Revellers prepare for Mad Friday

Emergency services are bracing themselves for one of the busiest nights of the year as hordes of revellers are expected to hit bars and clubs for "Mad Friday".

Tonight is believed to be the busiest evening for work Christmas parties, and pubs, bars and clubs are expecting a night of bumper sales.

Last year sales of alcohol in pubs, bars and restaurants soared by 114% on Mad Friday compared to an average Friday.

There are fears the festivities will also hit hospitals and police forces, as Britons put their health and safety at risk by knocking back too many drinks.

Police and ambulance crews are warning revellers to stay safe and drink responsibly.

Humberside Police said: "The festive period is a great time to socialise with friends and work colleagues in the run-up to Christmas.

"Unfortunately, these nights can lead to revellers drinking excessively which leaves them vulnerable to becoming victims of crime and occasionally leading to serious assaults and sexual assaults."

Party planners have said firms are beginning to splash the cash again this year, having emerged from the shadows of the economic slump which has blighted recent shindigs.

But it seems that in the age of Twitter and Instagram, people are toning down their antics, fearing their drunken exploits will be the talk of social media.

Digital communications expert Warren Knight said: "People are 100% being more sensible than ever before because of social media - reputations can be lost in one night.

"Staff are behaving better, reducing their alcohol consumption or even deciding against going to their party because they don't want to end up doing something silly they later regret.

"Instant communication, Instagram posts and checking-in facilities mean it is very difficult to delete something once it is online.

"People I speak to say the office Christmas party is getting more and more tame."

Street pastors are already turning to social media in an effort to use it as a force for good during party season.

Christian Nightlife Initiatives have launched a #StaySafe campaign reminding revellers of responsible drinking and appropriate behaviour.

Their tips include drinking plenty of water, staying in groups of friends, and keeping money back to afford transport home at the end of the evening.

Georgina Coleman, from bespoke venue operator Late Night London, said the Christmas party is enjoying a bumper year.

She said: "We have seen a marked increase in the number of inquiries about Christmas parties. Budgets have increased too, and the spend per head."

She added: "This is only the first year after the economic slump, so it's hard to draw too many conclusions, but the signs are encouraging."

And it is set to be a big weekend for the high street as festive shoppers rush to pick up the last of their Christmas presents on 'Panic Saturday'.

Shoppers are expected to spend £1.2 billion on the single day, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) for Vouchercodes.co.uk.

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